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Paige Stark ft. Cherry Glazerr & Jon Brion release "Zombie Brain Drain"


Paige Stark was born under a Capricorn sun and a Gemini moon. Right on the beaches of Southern California. Perhaps this fact is partly responsible for the duality within her and her work. The tug between seriousness and play. The juxtaposition of romantic yearning and contented solitude, of fuzzed out noise paired with delicate beauty. Her restrained yet evocative vocals the Guardian once deemed, “honey coated razor blades.” Lyrics which seem simple at first glance later appear increasingly layered the longer you stare at them. Over the past decade, Stark has built a career with her band Tashaki Miyaki dabbling in this type of duality. On her debut solo EP Good At Love, she has decided to dive into it. Today, Paige releases her second single of her EP, “Zombie Brain Drain,” featuring Cherry Glazerr and Jon Brion.


Paige Stark: The song is about the feeling when you’re so exhausted by the emotional turmoil in a relationship that you become a zombie and the romance dies, never to return. Fabianne is an old friend and supremely talented director and I knew she could bring my zombie girl gang vision to life so I was over the moon when she was available for this project. For the cast I asked Clem Creevy, another old friend, to be the human we take to the zombie side- since she plays on the song it has an extra fun element. Clem and Jon have this sort of guitar dialogue from the solo on out and I really love the energy of it. The zombie girl gang are all talented artists and dancers I know from the LA underground film and art scene. And Charley was awesome as our bad guy. I love how the look of the Tri-X film came out. We had fun with this one.


Director Therese Gstottenmayr: I’ve known Paige for over a decade and we’re both multidisciplinary artists with many creative paths. So I was very thrilled to make this together. We wanted to lean into the fun of horror films like ‘Night of the Living Dead’ but like if Agnes Varda directed it. Of course zombie girls break into spontaneous choreographed dance sequences before they go in for the kill. Everyone involved brought so much creativity and excitement to this project. Even the groundskeeper at the cemetery stopped to watch in amusement instead of kicking us out.


Paige keeps “office hours,” working on music or other creative projects daily-a discipline inspired by one of her favorite artists- Nick Cave. From this process, over the past few years, she has written and recorded “many, many” songs. Certain abandoned songs have been sitting around orphaned- too personal, too different from the band material to belong there. “I needed a place just for me.” Stark says in her subtle California drawl, “I needed a space to put them.” Stark’s bandmates and other friends in her creative circle have been encouraging her for years to “do something” with her solo songs of which she’s “probably recorded 3 records worth of demos.” One of those people was Jon Brion. “Jon kept saying to me...I think this stuff is really good. He told me it was his favorite of my work so far, and that stayed with me...” Stark explains, “...but I kind of move at my own pace, I rarely feel hurried. But recently I started to feel like it was time. I had gotten enough messages from the universe to put it out.”


Paige recruited Jon to helm the EP, making him a playlist of sounds she was inspired by. “At first I asked him to help me finish one song. It was the title track, “Good at Love”. I recorded it as a demo during a Tashaki session. I had quickly recorded vocals, piano and a little drum machine I used to keep time. It was very raw, but I liked the vibe of it. I gave it to Jon and asked if he could help me finish it...I thought maybe he could add some keyboards. When I next heard it, I was floored. It made me cry. It was exactly how I always wanted my music to sound. And at that moment I asked if he would help me finish a few other things, and he said yes, and that's the genesis of the EP. A couple things we started from scratch, a couple were started elsewhere and Jon brought them to their fully formed life.”


Throughout the EP, Paige’s vocals are front and center. Far less shrouded by reverb or effects than her previous work, allowing us to hear her more intimately. More of the musical dissimilitude of her eclectic influences are laid bare- Kate Bush and the Pixies. Harry Nilsson and Nick Cave. Judy Garland and John Lennon. Much of the EP deals with loneliness and romantic decay. “I wanted to make feminine music. The sonic female gaze. I wanted it to be soft but gutting. Women go through a lot. We love hard and carry our own wounds, and often other peoples’, and a lot of the time silently. I’m just exhausted by noise and violence and I want to make something very tender,” Paige explains. On the EP’s opener, she sings of the paradoxical emotions of love: “Keep it loose/ don’t hold too tight/ I’m trying to stay in line/ But I’m no good at love” she coos, laying out the tone and theme of the EP in languid breaths. The four songs follow an emotional through line all the way to the closer-a gorgeous cover of Harry Nilsson’s “I Will Never Leave You” far more stripped down than the original Nilsson Schmilsson version. It completes the circle of the torments and elation of romantic love. “Even when love is really good and right, it’s hard,” Paige says, “It shakes you to your core and forces you to ask yourself who you really are. And if you don’t respond, it shows you. And I love that, but it’s challenging. I wanted the EP to have that kind of emotional journey...questioning and resolving. So the Nilsson cover felt right for the end. I mean, I love a happy ending.” Maybe that’s why she is gently holding out a bleeding heart on the EP’s cover art, looking bright eyed with her chest brutally ripped open, still hopeful. It turns out there can be empowerment and perhaps even transformation in romantic discontentment.







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